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They meet by chance. The timing is wrong.
Three years later, she finds him again, but their separation was poisoned with narcotics and bloodied by enslavement.
Her freedom gambled away, Charlee Grosky escapes the international businessman who held her captive. But his power reaches beyond her protective barriers and threatens everyone she has come to love.
Jay Mayard wears his tortured secrets under his rock god facade. Drugs are his release, even as he seeks to be the man forged of the steel only she can see.
In a celebrity world filled with paparazzi, groupies, and drugs, Jay and Charlee must face their worst fears. When the battle is over, what will be left...Beneath The Burn.
Genre: Romantic/Erotic Thriller
Content warning: Includes graphic rape, sex, anal, bondage, and violence. Age 18+ only.
"For three years, he'd been in love with the idea of her. It had been the sort of devotion that breathed through his songs and embraced him in his loneliest hours. It was too soon to fully appreciate the woman she was, but during the course of a single day, a sweeping, chaotic sensation had taken up residence inside him It cowered at the prospect of losing her again, but also galvanized with a sense of duty. Love wasn't a feeling. It was a mission. A driving purpose to fulfill her every desire, to give her a life worth sharing."
This is a story about how one meeting, one encounter, one hour, can change your life forever...
One evening, the rising star musician and singer Jay Maynard couldn't manage to shake the memories of his past. They tortured him, making him desperately want something to block them, to forget. High on drugs and sensitive to people's touch, he was still panicking and then he saw a tattoo shop and a chance to just for a little while replace the pain inside, with the pain on the out, on his skin. There, he saw the brilliant blue eyes of Charlee Grosky and that hour he spent tattooing his scarred back changed him forever.
You know, when you read the first chapter or two of a book, most of the time you already grasp the notion of the book and usually know if you will like it, love it, or dislike it. Beneath the Burn had one of the best first chapters I have ever read. I loved the writing style from the first page - the artsy, sensual way the author described the connection between the characters, their feelings and reactions with a sense of deep emotional knowledge.
Jay and Charlee.. just wow. One of the most fascinating characters ever. Especially Charlee. Her life is a story of innocence lost in the most horrific way, a story of life controlled and shaped by slavery and other people's actions and choices. And all through that, she learned how to survive, how to protect herself. She didn't give up to her torturer, fought the battles she could, trying to manipulate Roy back, learned his triggers and ways to avoid the worst. She even escaped the first chance she got and lived in fear always running away. And after meeting Jay Mayard and falling into captivity again, she held onto her memory of him drawing strength from it.
"White blonde hair. Slender frame. Mouthy. Strangely perceptive. And eyes so blue you'd never fucking forget them."
"Her armor rose from her skin and outlined her body. She kept herself safe beneath it where he couldn't see her or hurt her."
"You should remove the chain. Because I intend to strangle you with it while you sleep."
"I would kill you if you try."
"Would you survive my death?"
Charlee Grosky is a survivor.
One of the most interesting things about Charlee is her masochistic side. I loved how the author explored it - the causes, the reasons, the way it works. It was heart-breaking to watch her successfully battle the fear and hurt with accepting it, being open about it, but maybe she was too open about it. Maybe she accepted it too much and fell under the weight of the slave situation in a way that got used to it and developed a masochistic side. She resented it off course, hated that she needed pain, searched for it even when she was free. It was even harder to watch Jay deal with it.
Jay lived for three years thinking his muse was dead after their encounter when he decided to be better for her, to try harder to not let his past control him. Charlee's strength inspired him and his song writing and it was beautiful. Some would say it was unrealistic that a girl he met for one hour had that much effect on him. But that's the beauty of understanding and connection. Charlee was his angel, his reason to battle the demons. Not many people have that kind of support.
"He didn't want to be a rock star. He wanted to lose himself in his music, singing and playing guitar, town after town, night after night. Above all, he just wanted to forget."
"She's created the epitome of beauty and strength in pain. And yes, it fucking celebrated the freedom in survival... It was cruel that art could be so exquisite and heart wrenching at the same time."
Jay was a sensitive, moody artist and when he reconnected with Charlee it was like he got his miracle again. They were painfully honest to each other - especially Charlee. They both didn't hold back anything. But I found it a little unrealistic that he changed so fast. He was still the same and a few mistakes were inevitable, but suddenly he was this Alpha guy, not letting his girl out of sight. But I guess when you get your angel back, you do everything to not lose it again. and I totally fell in love with his romantic side.
„You can't control love. It's like creating music.""How so?""Love is like a series of improbable, lonely notes landing together in meaningful chaos. Where every channel carries a rhythm that conveys an expression of emotion. It doesn't feel flat or fake or hollow. It's not exaggerated with overtones. The complexity might feel organized, but the creation is never controlled."
"The act of love couldn't be governed by tradition of conformity. It was an individual choice, sometimes one that was questioned and judged, perhaps abandoned in frustration, but always returned to. Just like writing music, love was a unique, hard-earned and giving experience."
"Charlee, fuck. Tell me I'm not dreaming. You're my here, my now, and God, if I'm lucky, my hereafter."
This book is as dark as it gets - it contains some pretty graphic scene of rape and abuse. It's also partly a thriller with Charlee running away from her abductor Roy - I loved this side of the book too even though thrillers are not so interesting to me.
There are certainly some bad stuff in this book. The biggest problem was that things were too rushed, too many things happened in a short period of time. Most of the important plot points were in a span of a day or two. Most of the scenes had a soul-deep, gut-wrenching effect on me but there were times when things went slow and relaxed. Those were good scenes, but they confused me, took away from the excitement, even came across as too cheesy. Or maybe the length just disturbed everything. This book is, for me, a dynamic and emotional romance thriller. Some people argue that this should have been two books instead of one. Weeell... Maybe. The excitement would've probably been a little lost in between. But with things a little more organized, it could've worked.
But. I'm a sucker for great writing style and character chemistry so I loved this book more then I disliked several of the problems. So 4 stars! Pam Godwin, you're an awesome author. I want to quote your every word. I can't wait to read Dead of Eve. Zombies and stuff like that are so far from my comfort zone but I can't resist you!
"You have the heart one expects to see at the center of a fire, bending and twisting like steel, but never breaking. If something happens to mine, yours would be stubborn enough to beat for both of us."